Pfizer’s knowledge sharing on antiviral is positive step, but more is needed

The US pharmaceutical company Pfizer will share its intellectual property and know-how for the production of its Covid-19 pill in the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). The company is following the example of Merck & Co (MSD) that recently announced the same. This is an important step in the right direction to enhance global access to medical products against Covid-19. Wemos is calling on Pfizer and other vaccine makers to do the same for their vaccines.

95 countries

If Pfizer’s pill is approved for use, the MPP can sub-license other pharmaceutical companies so they too can produce the antiviral treatment. These companies are only allowed to supply the product to or within 95 certain low- and middle-income countries. Pfizer will not receive any royalties on sales as long as the pandemic lasts, keeping the product affordable for these countries. Merck shares its intellectual property and know-how through the MPP with 105 low- and middle-income countries.

Equal access

Wemos applauds Pfizer’s sharing of its intellectual property and know-how for the production of the antiviral treatment. However, for truly equal access to products against Covid-19, it is important that this is not limited to a number of countries. Pfizer’s agreement with the MPP means that some middle-income countries, particularly in South America, will have limited or no access to the product.

Sharing vaccine know-how

Furthermore, low- and middle-income countries now mainly need vaccines to effectively fight the virus. Currently, they significantly lack access to these products. This is why it is crucial that Pfizer (and other vaccine makers) also share their intellectual property and know-how for the production of their vaccines.

If they do not do this voluntarily (through the MPP or C-TAP, the World Health Organization’s platform for sharing know-how), then it must be done involuntarily, is Wemos’ opinion. The latter can be done through the so-called TRIPS waiver, a proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily lift intellectual property rights on vaccines by the World Trade Organization.

More information about the Pfizer deal can be found in MPP’s press release:

Read more about Merck: Breakthrough: Merck will share intellectual property and know-how for Covid-19 pill

Photo: ‘Medication of antiviral capsule for treatment of new corona virus infection with Covid-19 text’ – Jernej Furman via Flickr Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

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